Tag Archives: health

First six months without sheep; preparing to move north

When we had sheep, they kept the fences clear. Now the birds enjoy the shelter.

When we had sheep, they kept the fences clear. Now the birds enjoy the shelter.

June, 2014 to Jan., 2015

Long walk in the woods, 1 1/2 mi.

Long walk in the woods, 1 1/2 mi.

This morning I captured a chipping sparrow away from Boots and Liam, and released it to the suet block. It shook itself and flew off, thank goodness. The two rescued stray cats run between my legs, or walk under Emily, the Pyr’s stomach, and move out the door with her. If I haven’t succeeded in re-homing them before we move, they may die on RI Rt. 1, which runs right in front of our home there.

Those who keep carnivores as pets need to be prepared to deal with carcasses of helpless small creatures pets consider their rightful prey. Last week it was a possum in the garage, probably after dog food—the 20-pound bags were tossed all around but not spilled…The dogs got the poor thing. Liam the cat had slipped out at midnight when I took the dogs out for their last walk, so I left the garage door ajar. Fortunately the possum didn’t come through the doggie door into the house! Life seems so complicated sometimes. Was the possum dead, or playing possum? I waited an hour to pick it up, then left it in the hole uncovered the rest of the day, dogs inside, to be sure it wasn’t going to just walk away, which I have seen them do. Not this time. A couple days before that I opened the back door to feed the birds and found remains of a squirrel on the rug, and a mouse a couple days later.

Woke this am. to find a raccoon “treed” in the firethorn on the back deck. Two dogs in the yard provides high risk for the night visitors… Maeve, our Aussie, has killed two raccoons this past summer, and is the best-rabies-immunized dog in the neighborhood. When I called for help, hoping NC Wildlife would come and trap the raccoons and take them somewhere, the employee advised me to take in the bird seed at night to discourage their coming here, and after two weeks, that did work. They don’t move raccoons, since they might be incubating rabies. I, of all people, should know that. I did a Masters’ paper on wildlife rabies, costs to NC when it got here, and oral rabies vaccine for wild things to control rabies exposures to pets and people. Nights are quieter in the house, too, since Emily barks with great volume and enthusiasm at possums or raccoons on the deck in the night. She’s shut in, but we have doors with windows to the floor, and she keeps watch. It’s her job, in her mind, to protect us from wild things who invade her territory. She’s done a great job of it over the years, also. We’ve never had coyotes in our pasture, killing our lambs or sheep, as many of my friends have suffered. Large farms require multiple Great Pyrenees or similar guardian dogs, to keep predators out.

Jan., 2015
A New Year, and still recovering from the surgical repair of damage done in the accident last April. I guess healing always takes longer than they lead you to expect.

We’ll move to RI in the summer, so we’re going through cupboards and closets, as well as boxes in the garage, to see what we’ve stashed, and wondering why we kept these things! I’m donating a great many things to friends who will use them, or organizations who will—for example wallpaper rolls from houses dating back 45 years—perfectly fine to use on a loom to keep the threads from tangling. I’m keeping a little of each to remember, and I’ll use it in weaving in the future, also. Common Thread in Sanford is a weaving workshop with many women volunteering to spend some mornings at donated looms, making rugs, tote bags, dish towels, table runners, place mats, etc., for sale both in the shop and at craft shows far and wide. Proceeds go to womens’ support organizations, such as Interact. They also compete in the Lee County Fair, have a wall full of prize ribbons, and the prize money also goes back into the organization. My box of old wallpaper will go there, since each loom requires a roll of wallpaper, and it wears out eventually, of course.

I’m spinning up great amounts of wool that is not from my best fleeces, just to condense the amount of bulk somewhat. Yarn takes much less space than wool. I’ve started an afghan for us to keep this time, which will have sheep and Australian Shepherd dogs (in their own fur) knitted in with the design. I’m still hoping to find a Great Pyrenees dog pattern to knit in, but so far, no luck. There is no hurry with this project. If we were not moving, I’d be aiming to have it ready to compete in the Carolina FiberFest in early April, but we’ll probably be very busy then, as moving time will be getting near, so I don’t plan to enter anything this year. I will be there to watch the sheep dog herding demonstration, and sit and spin with my friends in the Twisted Threads Fiber Arts Guild circle, however.

The pasture seems so empty and still, the fences covered with stilt grass, sheltering birds over winter. Emily, the Pyr, goes out to the back pasture every day on patrol, as she always has, keeping an eye on what predators may be threatening her acres. We miss the sheep, but our arthritic joints do not. Each year it got harder to clear gutters so water could run away from the barn, to trim hooves, move hay and grain down the hill to the barn, and keep things down there relatively tidy. It was great exercise, and that we do miss. Walking the dogs a mile up the road has to do now as a substitute, and the dogs enjoy it as much as we do. Emily used to live in the pasture only, unless the sheep were up grazing in the yard, when she came, also. Now she can explore the neighborhood, on a leash of course, but she loves reading the signs night critters have left along the road and on the woods trails we walk with them. We’re wondering where in RI we’ll find the same opportunity to walk with the dogs in the woods—we’ll have time later to look, but it will be much colder in winter there.

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Filed under Aging, Birds, cats, community, Compromises, dogs, dogs and cats, Family, Friendship, gardening, Grief, Healing, Health, Homespun yarn, sheep, spinning, Weather, wildlife

A cherished aging sheep, Suzie

3/26/14

Our oldest sheep, Suzie, is 17, and quite suddenly has started to slide. You can see her picture in the header of this page, in the red coat. Deborah is on the left–she died with arthritis and old age last year. I think Suzie’ll be gone within the week, and we’ll find a home for Vanity, the “companion sheep” my friend Elaina loaned us. She won’t breed her again, which is why she was “dispensable.” A lady in our spinning guild is just starting in sheep, has several angora rabbits and some alpacas, but does not plan to breed them, and she’ll take Vanity Fair (my shepherd friend chooses a category for sheep names each year, and this year it had been magazines… she may have a Playboy around 🙂 I’m glad to have a future home for Vanity, the companion, because they don’t do well at all alone—they need a flock. I’m looking at all the sheep-related things in the garage and will put them together to share with my friends. This will be a big transition for us, since for the past 18 yr. we’ve had sheep to care for, and to groom and fertilize our lawn and pasture. The deer will have a holiday out there, eating the rye grass, vetch and clover I’d planted for the sheep to graze. The dogs will now have a full two acres to ramble, and will enjoy the extra space, exercise, and night-time critters to chase.

Letter to a friend–

Hi, Laura (another shepherd),

I went out at midnight for a last check, to be sure Suzie didn’t have her legs tangled in the elastic loops at the back of her sheep coat (I’ll take it off when the nights aren’t so cold). I had her ginger snap, which she no longer eats from my hand, so I broke it up and put it in the feed dish. Emily the Pyr decided to eat the cookie—I shooed her out of the barn, and Vanity, the Shetland, took off at the same time. Poor old Suzie decided she was not going to stay in that barn alone, and high-tailed it right out of the barn and up the hill after Vanity, baaing all the way! She hasn’t moved that fast since I can remember!!  As soon as I was a little way up the hill, and they knew I wasn’t going to do anything unpleasant to them, they walked back into the barn again.

I wanted to thank you for mentioning Aspirin (ASA), and what a little pain med can do. I saw it happen when I worked Labor and Delivery:  a mother who was teeth-gritting determined to do natural childbirth, and her painful muscles couldn’t relax, so labor had stopped advancing the baby. She was persuaded by her husband, after I persuaded him, that just a small dose of pain med was not going to hurt mother or baby—and within 1/2 hr. she had her baby. She just needed that little bit of relief to relax her muscles and let Mother Nature take over. Suzie just needed that baby ASA today to feel a little better—I’m amazed! She wasn’t even limping on her bad front leg, just trotted right up the hill. I almost fell over!

Thank you so much. I know it won’t make a big difference in her length of life, perhaps, but it certainly seems to have made her feel a lot better today. I put a baby non-enteric ASA in a 5-cc syringe, pulled up 1 cc of water, it melted instantly, and just put it in her mouth, as you said. I followed it with a little bit of ginger snap with some molasses on it, which she chewed right up, but I had to push it in, of course. I can’t remember—can I give it every day, or only every other day? She certainly did respond to it 🙂

Blessings with your elderly animals—I know they get TLC galore at your farm,

Judy

P.S. I’m copying Sheryl, who will become Vanity’s “Mom,” eventually, because all these little sheep care tips come in so handy sometimes. Even after all these years, and having given ASA to arthritic sheep a few years back, I had forgotten.

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Filed under Aging, gardening, Health, Life is a cycle, sheep, Weather, wildlife

Danger in dogs entering unfamiliar house; 17 staples fixed it :-(

IMG_2547June 6, 2013

Today I learned to check out a new home I’m visiting on vacation–especially to locate flights of stairs AND railings…

We arrived last evening at the Upper Peninusula in MI, and today my cousin, Bob, toured us all around Macinac Island–lovely day! The two dogs, his and ours, had been out in the yard all afternoon, and I went to let them in. They both had to come through the door at the same time, of course, Bob’s big German Short-haired hunting dog, and Maeve the Aussie. I stepped back as they both pushed the door in, and my toe encountered–nothing!! There’s a flight of steps down right in back of where the door opens, the light was out, we’d just gotten there last evening, and I had not been down those steps to find out there was a railing behind my back… Fortunately, the steps were carpeted, but the floor below was linolium over concrete 😦   Well, Dirk responded to my scream as I fell– the last thing I remember. About half-an-hour later I began to wake up in the ER. Bob had called 911 when Dirk’s hand was covered in blood, and I was unconscious. I can’t say enough for the ambulance crew and the Newberry, MI, hospital  and Dr. Vick, who promptly took care of me, including sending me off with a CD of the CT scans & other x-rays they’d taken, for my doctor at home. Also for my cousin, Bob’s patience with my unexpectedly sailing down his steps. He’s also sent his house insurance folks to talk with the hospital to deal with my co-pay, which is most generous, and unexpected. After all, I allowed the dogs to shove the door–wasn’t anyone’s fault, really, but makes me feel very klutzy and vulnerable.

I was very lucky to sustain only a cut requiring 17 staples in my scalp to close it, and a concussion that left my head swimming for the following week. If I had not been wearing a plastic clip to hold my hair up, it might not have been as bad. One of the teeth of the clip broke off on my skull. I went back to using my cane as a “third leg” for balance, and when my pain pills were nearly out, started supplementing with Irish Creame in my bedtime cocoa so I could sleep. Splitting headache that first week was no fun at all, nor the whiplash injury to my neck that prevented me lifting up my own head without using my hand to grip some hair to lift.  I still have a colorful bruise across my lower back 2 wk. later, and plenty of pain to go with it. But hey, I’m not paralyzed, did not get a subdural hematoma, broke no bones–I’m thankful it was no worse. We continued the vacation on schedule, but came home a day early to get the staples out at my own doctor’s office, and I’m declared well by the resident who removed them. I love vacation, but I guess I need to be a lot more careful about checking my environment!

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Filed under Aging, dogs, Family, Healing, Health, Thanksgiving, Vacation

Fiber arts guild activities that build our community

Twisted Threads Fiber Arts Guild in Raleigh, NC created and assembled 12″ squares made by 30 different women to give a guild member with cancer

Our spinning guild is a large group, about 60 individuals per month attending various meetings in different locations, which I started in our living room about 16 years ago. I know most of the people who attend. We’re a serendipitous group with related interests, although most people specialize in individual skills–such as making fiber dyes from natural materials (of no interest at all to me), some grow fiber animals, some buy the fiber to spin, or grow cotton and process it themselves (also of absolutely no interest to me). But it’s a big world, even among fiber enthusiasts… we all have complimentary skills, and support one another through veterinary complexities, tornado strikes and cancer, among other things.

Attached is a picture of a secret healing afghan (in progress) for a guild member recently diagnosed with cancer. Each square is from one of the Twisted Threads Fiber Arts Guild members, in fiber and design of their choice:

wool, mohair, angora, pet fur, alpaca, probably some silk or cotton blends. Some are knitted, some crocheted, one woven, in an infinite combination of stitches and colors. Each is unique, and each square has a note on the back with good health wishes for our friend. Handspun Shetland yarn to edge the squares and do the border was donated by one of our guild members who doesn’t crochet (but she does knit and weave). I also coordinated two earlier afghans four and eight years ago for guild members, and they have both been successfully treated, and continue to belong to our guild.

Projects like this build community, as we nurture a friend experiencing adversity. I called for help the day my husband was to be discharged from the hospital after breaking his hip. Snow was predicted the next evening, and wood he had split before he fell was scattered around the wood pile, waiting to be moved to the deck and stacked. We frequently lose power, and our wood stove is our only heat in that case. That next day, before the snow fell, I had a committee of six arrive after breakfast to move and stack wood, and after lunch, another work crew arrived, bringing a husband or two along, who split more wood, and moved it all to the deck and stacked and covered it for me. What a blessing!

Come shearing time in spring, those of us with flocks of sheep or Angora goats can expect a few helping hands to manage skirting, bundling and labeling fleeces, holding a lamb while its mother has her haircut, dragging and pushing a ram or billy goat from its pen to the shearing area, or handing a pre-filled syringe of tetanus vaccine to the shepherd.

You can find us on Yahoo groups–just do a search for the name of the guild. If you’re in the Triangle area of NC, or visiting here on a guild meeting day, I hope you can join us sometime for a meeting. The calendar is on the group site, after you enroll to the email list. We enjoy hearing about activities of guilds in other parts of the fiber-world.

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Filed under Aging, community, Crocheting, Friendship, Healing, Health, knitting, Satisfaction, sheep, spinning